|Pregnancy and Drug Use|
How do drugs effect
a baby? Drugs, along with other ,
can be harmful to a developing foetus throughout the pregnancy but the
first three months is considered the time of most risk because the major
organs and limbs of the baby are forming ( organogenesis ).
All drugs taken during pregnancy will reach the baby through the ,
however there is an enormous variation in babies' responses to these drugs.
The variation in response to drugs depends on the following factors:
- The actual nature of the drug, whether the drug is a sedative (for
example, ), or a stimulant (for example, amphetamines).
- How often the drug is used and the dose taken.
- Whether one or more drugs are used. Some drugs have a cumulative or
combined action which is more likely to be harmful for the baby.
- Each baby, for reasons that are not clear, seems to have its own response
to different drugs. Mothers can use the same drugs in the same amount
for the same duration or length of a pregnancy, and the babies can react
differently. There appears to be something in each individual baby which
allows this to occur.
The first major study on drug use during pregnancy estimated
that more than 5% of the 4 million women who gave birth in the United
States in 1992 used illegal drugs (such as ) while they were pregnant.
What are the results of drug exposure?
A common complication in pregnancy, where the mother has been taking
drugs or , is an increased incidence
with babies often arriving more than six weeks early. Overall, babies
born to mothers who are using drugs or alcohol are . Low birth weight babies often have breathing
difficulties and are more vulnerable to infections. During a pregnancy
where the mother has been using alcohol or other drugs, the baby needs
to be carefully monitored at ante-natal visits. This is done by using
to check the baby's growth and other tests to check that the placenta
continues to work well.
The main drugs known to interfere with prenatal development
The U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) divides drugs into
different categories, depending on the risk they pose to the mother-to-be
and the child she is carrying. Click
The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken
from the following source(s):
U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration Online:
2. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services:
Australian Drug Foundation, Alcohol, Other Drugs and pregnancy:
(def;articles & more)